Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3

Is the latest Galaxy really worth more of your hard-earned cash when you can pick up its predecessor for peanuts?

The Samsung Galaxy S3 was Stuff’s top rated smartphone until the Sony Xperia Z arrived last month, so it’s evidently still got a lot to offer. And with the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S4, the older phone is going to drop in price. So should you save your pennies with the old or splash out on the new?

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – build and design

Well, there’s not much between these two in the physical department. They’re very similar looking, so much so that you could be forgiven for thinking they’re the same phone. Both feature a polycarbonate build and removable back, allowing you to replace the battery and slide in a microSD card for extra storage space. The S4 shades it by being ever so slightly thinner, despite its larger screen size, but in all honesty if you don’t like the design of one you won’t like the design of the other either.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – display

Here’s an area where there’s a little more daylight between the two. The S4 rocks a 4.99in screen with a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, while the S3’s display is 4.8in and 1280 x 720. Both use Super AMOLED technology. So the S4’s screen is larger and sharper, but doesn’t mark a sea change. Apologies for the cliche, but it’s a case of evolution rather than revolution.

The snapper really sets the S4 apart from its predecessor by swapping the 8MP sensor for a 13MP one and stuffing the whole thing full of clever software. The S4 features shooting modes you won’t find on the S3 (or any other smartphone), such as Dual Shot (take photos or videos with both the 13MP rear and 2MP front camera simultaneously), Drama Shot (which merges photos in a time-lapse) and Cinemagram (quickly make your own animated GIFs). The camera interface is also markedly superior to the S3’s, taking a number of cues from the Samsung Galaxy Camera.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – camera

Both phones are Android-based, of course, but the S4 uses 4.2.1 Jelly Bean while the S3 has 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The TouchWiz interface is almost identical too, but the S4 adds some interesting UI elements through its touch-free gesture controls and eye-tracking, which in theory make the phone easier to use. The latter, for instance, allows you to pause a video by looking away from the screen.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – software and UI

The S4 is, as you’d imagine, the more powerful phone thanks to its eight-core processor, as opposed to the S3 with its quad-core CPU. Without proper testing we can’t see how much this improves performance, but on paper the S4 should offer a significant boost to multitasking. It’s worth noting that the S4’s eight cores cannot be used together on a single task: the quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex A7 “half” will generally be used for everyday stuff, while the other quad-core Cortex A15 will take over for more demanding apps, 3D gaming and processes.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – power

Without knowing the price of the S4, we can’t say for definite that you should pick it over the S3, but we suspect that it’ll offer a good return for whatever networks are charging in comparison to the S3. Still, if you already have an S3 there’s probably little reason to ditch it right now in favour of the S4 (especially as some of the latter’s features will be coming to the S3 in the near future). The S4 is clearly the superior of the two, but it doesn’t strike us as a great leap forward – rather a steady evolution.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – conclusion